Full essay at: 306090 vol.8, Autonomous Urbanism, edited by Alex Duval, and Kjersti Monson [New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005], 21-30
Rural areas in the European Union’s territory are undergoing a critical shift in their fundamental functions, where agriculture is no longer playing a decisive role as part of the primary economic sector. Their weight in national economies and job markets is drastically decreasing, while their importance in preserving the landscape and cultural heritage, and as active bodies in national metropolitan development is increasing. A major share of the EU´s rural regions is bound to become less productive entities, and gradually turn themselves into broader influential contexts, breaking up even more the already decaying binomial of town-and-country. The social and cultural profiles of numerous rural areas, especially of those nearby or within metropolitan regions, are entering a suburbanization process and starting to accommodate sprawl from surrounding cities.
These shifting conditions forced the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to undertake radical changes in its directives regarding rural development, as the viability of these areas cannot depend on agriculture alone anymore. Over recent years, the EU has been turning its criteria for financing from supports to production achievements, which was already causing a certain level of unrest in the world agricultural market, towards the producers’ income directly. In 1999, the CAP changed several of its agreements to reinforce investments in supporting multi-disciplinary approaches towards rural environments, and to equalize agricultural competition within the EU. This reform became known as the ‘Agenda 2000’, and set the goals for the EU’s rural development from 2000 to 2006, by unifying the new development measures in a single framework, and forwarding decision-making responsibilities to the Member States, providing them with an unprecedented flexibility.
Less Favoured Areas and Areas Subject to Environmental Constraints
Under the ‘Agenda 2000’, Member States were offered a sort of ‘menu’ with 22 measures they could choose from to compose their own initiatives. Through this process, on September 2000, the Netherlands approved the so-called ‘Decision C2751’, which set their priority actions, being strongly based on an ‘Agenda 2000’ measure for “less favoured areas and areas subject to environmental constraints» (LFA). Such definition could be assigned to areas affected by environmental restrictions related to the maintenance and protection of threatened landscapes. And this could not be more fortunate for the Netherlands, whose artificially built landscape is crucial for keeping the increasing water-level of the North Sea and of several rivers isolated from the lower parts of the country. The landscape’s morphology is actively present in Dutch everyday life as part of an edge-relationship of potential flooding catastrophes. Not coincidentally, agriculture is the background for this protective and dangerous mechanism, stabilizing the soil and using excessive water for irrigation. Through the LFA, the Netherlands was entitled to receive compensatory investments, then, becoming embedded with concrete potentials to change the ways its ambiguous landscape evolves and maintains itself. […]
Javier F. Contreras, Gabriel N. Duarte, and Roberto Gª Caballero
BOOKS /// Javier F. Contreras. Manifesto of Interiors: Thinking in the Expanded Media [Geneva: HEAD – Publishing, 2021] /// Javier F. Contreras. The Miralles Projection: Thinking and Representation in the Architecture of Enric Miralles. [New York: Applied Research + Design Publishing, 2020] /// Javier F. Contreras, Youri Kravtchenko, Arjen Oosterman, and Lilet Breddels, eds. Herbarium of Interiors. HEAD – Genève & India Mahdavi. [Amsterdam: Archis-Volume, 2020] /// Javier F. Contreras. Fragmentos de Planta y Espacio. Sistema Diédrico en Enric Miralles [Madrid: Ediciones Asimétricas, 2018] /// INTERVIEWS /// “Depuis Rue Las Cases. A Conversation with India Mahdavi.” Interview by Javier F. Contreras. In India Mahdavi, edited by Chronicle Chroma [Los Angeles: Chronicle Books, 2021] /// Javier F. Contreras, and Graeme Brooker. “The Future is Interior and Interiorised.” Interview by Marco Costantini, and Claire Favre Maxwell. RADDAR no. 2 (2020), 192-213. /// Irma Boom. “Within Pages, Beyond Books.” Interview by Javier F. Contreras, and Lilet Breddels. In Herbarium of Interiors, edited by J. F. Contreras, Y. Kravtchenko, A. Oosterman, L. Breddels [Amsterdam: Archis-Volume, 2020], 42-47. /// Javier F. Contreras. “Architecture d’intérieur. Espace et Communication.” Interview by Nic Ulmi. In IN MY HEAD, edited by Julie E. Julliard [Geneva: HEAD – Genève, 2020], 240-243. /// Jean-Pierre Greff, and Javier F. Contreras. “Dialogue sur l’enseignement de l’architecture d’intérieur.” Interview by Roberto Zancan. In L’architecture par l’intérieur, edited by Roberto Zancan [Geneva: MetisPresses, 2018], 185-205. /// ESSAYS /// Javier F. Contreras. “El Croquis Night: Excursus into Nocturnal Obliteration in Architectural Media.” Interiority. Vol 4 No. 2 (2021): 181-190. /// Javier F. Contreras. “Tactile and Reflective Conditions in the Architecture of Marie-José Van Hee.” In Marie-José Van Hee Architecten: More Home, More Garden, edited by Hilde Peleman, and Katrien Vandermarliere [Ghent: Copyright Slow Publishing, 2019], 217-229. /// Javier F. Contreras. “Différences de Perception: Le Chablais Lémanique.” In Prises de vue. Un paradigme pour l’observation du paysage, edited by Michael Jakob [Geneva: Métis Presses, 2019], 129-146. /// Javier F. Contreras. “Tactile and Reflective Conditions: Marie-José Van Hee’s House Declercq.” BITACORA Arquitectura no. 39 (2018): 134-139. /// Javier F. Contreras. “Dibujo y Repetición: Presencia Manual de Enric Miralles en la Planta del Ayuntamiento de Utrecht.” RA Revista de Arquitectura no. 19 (2017): 97-104. /// Javier F. Contreras, and José María Sánchez García. “Concentration as Program, Emptiness as Flexibility: an Idea of Space.” In Passion for the Built Environment (Perspectives in Metropolitan Research no. 2), edited by Gesa Ziemer [Berlin: Jovis Verlag, 2016], 98-106. /// Javier F. Contreras. “La Tectónica de lo Aéreo: Enric Miralles y la Vicisitud de lo Climático.” ZARCH: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Architecture and Urbanism no. 4 (2015): 22-35. /// Javier F. Contreras. “Plan Libre vs. Plan Miralles.” In Massilia 2011. Annuaire d’études Corbuséennes, edited by Josep Quetglas [Paris-Marseille: Fondation Le Corbusier, Editions Imbernon, 2011], 82-91. /// Javier F. Contreras. “Océanos de Arena, Ciudades del Petróleo.” Revista Arquitectura no. 361 (Autumn 2010): 88-91. /// Javier F. Contreras. “El Organicismo Expandido.” CIRCO no. 153. Madrid: M.R.T. Coop, 2009. /// Javier F. Contreras, Gabriel N. Duarte, and Roberto Gª Caballero. “It’s Not Just Grass! Subverting Legal Planning and the Reinvention of the Dutch Process-Landscape Agenda 2000 & the C2751.” In 306090 vol.8, Autonomous Urbanism, edited by Alex Duval, and Kjersti Monson [New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005], 21-30.
Javier Fernández Contreras (Granada, 1982) is an architect, critic and the dean of the Department of Interior Architecture at HEAD – Genève. His work explores the relationship between architecture, representation and media, with a specific focus on the role of interiors in the construction of contemporaneity. Contreras studied architecture at TU Delft and ETSA Madrid, where he graduated with a Master’s degree in 2006, and completed a PhD in architectural theory in 2013, summa cum laude. In 2015 he was a finalist in the 10th arquia/tesis competition with his PhD thesis The Miralles Projection: Thinking and Representation in the Architecture of Enric Miralles. He has taught architectural design at different institutions, including ETSAM in Spain, XJTLU in China and ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Contreras is the author of the books Fragmentos de Planta y Espacio (Ediciones Asimétricas, 2018), The Miralles Projection (Applied Research + Design Publishing, 2020), Manifest of Interiors: Thinking in the Expanded Media (HEAD – Publishing, 2021), and co-editor of Herbarium of Interiors (Archis-Volume, 2020), a special collaboration between HEAD – Genève, India Mahdavi, and Volume magazine. His critical essays have been published in various books and specialised journals, including Massilia Annuaire des Études Corbuséennes, Marie-José Van Hee Architecten, Perspectives in Metropolitan Research, 306090, CIRCO, Drawing Matter, Bitácora, RA Revista de Arquitectura.
This website is an index of selected writings.